Anyone who has been involved in a serious accident will tell you: it changes everything. The trauma you experience following an accident even affects areas of your life you wouldn’t expect, such as your metabolism.
Trauma takes your metabolism by surprise. Prior to the accident or injury, you may have been happy with your health, weight and activity level, but once you experience the trauma of injury, your body will face changes.
You can take some control over the inevitable inflammation your body may experience by educating yourself about foods that can literally cause you pain. From vending machines in the emergency room and comfort food while you recuperate at home to meals provided by family and friends, what you put in your mouth will change. Fast food may replace home-cooked meals due to fatigue or limitations from your injuries. You may not be able to carry as many groceries as you used to and may cut corners on ingredients, just to get the meal cooked and done.
If you are not mindful of these changes, in a short time, you may feel painfully swollen, overweight, and lethargic. You may also feel stressed, which could cause ‘emotional eating’. In addition, stress from trauma has been linked to disrupted thyroid function which also affects your metabolism.
Did you know that you can help reverse some of these changes? Many common foods that you may be eating actually increase your inflammation and pain. While inflammation is a healthy response to fight off infection, prolonged inflammation is not healthy.
If you are injured you are likely suffering from prolonged pain and inflammation that requires medication, treatment and exercise. Very few are aware that turning to a dietician and nutritionist can also serve to reduce inflammation and help you get better. Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad foods lurking in your kitchen so that you can be mindful about what you eat.
Foods that cause inflammation generally contain sugar, dairy products, transfats, artificial colouring and refined white flour. These may appear in less obvious food items such as agave, frozen yogurt, barley and rye, peanuts, and seasonings.
Corn causes inflammation whether in natural form, as chips, high fructose corn syrup or corn oil. Deep fried foods, foods with excess sodium and deli meats containing nitrites also all cause inflammation. Cooking with corn, canola or soybean oil also causes inflammation as opposed to olive oil which exhibits anti-inflammatory effects.
Nature has also created foods that have been shown to help curb inflammation. These include:
- Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, cooked in a healthy way – Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation.
- Whole grains contain fiber, which are shown to reduce an inflammatory protein marker in blood
- Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and collard greens contain vitamin E which protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
- Nuts are packed with antioxidants which can help your body fight off and repair damage caused by inflammation.
- Colourful vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, beets, squash and leafy vegetables have high antioxidants.
- Tomatoes and tomato sauce contain lycopene which is also beneficial.
- Hot peppers particularly are rich in capsaicin, a chemical that reduces pain and inflammation and is used in topical creams.
- Turmeric, another spicy ingredient in Indian cooking and curry, also helps regulate the immune system against inflammation.
- Still keeping it spicy, garlic shuts off pathways that lead to inflammation. Onions also contain similar anti-infl ammatory chemicals.
- All fruits can help fight inflammation, because they’re low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. But berries, especially, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties; most especially raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Studies have also shown that tart cherries have the highest antioxidant level of any food.
While it is not easy to cook healthy meals when you have suffered an injury, you can help to reduce your pain through your plate and your pantry. Stay mindful of what goes in your mouth and try to stay positive! Sometimes you truly are what you eat.